Tony Gilroy explains the ‘forensic manifesto’ that shaped Andor’s storyline

Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Andor is just under a month away, and the creative crew and cast are doing several interviews to promote the show. The showrunner of Andor, Tony Gilroy, explained to Variety the process of him joining the show, and about the “long and forensic manifesto” he wrote for the show.

Tony Gilroy initially wasn’t interested in being in a Star Wars project after Rogue One. Even when Kathleen Kennedy approached Gilroy after the film, eager to do more projects with him, asked him what sort of stories he’d be interested in telling, he asked if “Could you do, like, Inherit the Wind?”

Inherit the Wind, a film released in 1960, directed by Stanley Kramer, is based on the 1955 play, is about a teacher who goes on trial for teaching evolution instead of creationism in a Tennessee school. Gilroy picked something outlandish and very out of the realm of Star Wars to signal to Kennedy that he was done with the universe.

But even as Lucasfilm began to develop a prequel series for Rogue One, the studio still sent him scripts. At that time, the series would follow Cassian and K-2SO. Gilroy explains that It was in the vein of Cassian and K-2 are like Butch and Sundance, and they’re gonna storm the Citadel.” Gilroy goes on to say that the material was OK, “but very hard to sustain over a long haul.”

In response to Lucasfilm, Gilroy wrote “a long and forensic manifesto” about why the approach with Andor and K-2SO wouldn’t work, but what they needed to do instead. Gilroy’s “manifesto” uses Cassian’s story not just to show his life before Rogue One, but to detail the lives of ordinary people living under the Empire. While the show does feature some legacy characters such as Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera and Genevieve O’Reilly’s Mon Mothma, the vast majority are brand new, such as lowly factory workers or mid level technocrats. The Jedi, it seems, have little room in this vision.

“I wanted to do it about real people,” Gilroy explains. They’ve made all this IP about the royal family, in essence. It’s been great. But there’s a billion, billion, billion other beings in the galaxy. There’s plumbers and cosmeticians. Journalists! What are their lives like? The revolution is affecting them just as much as anybody else. Why not use the Star Wars canon as a host organism for absolutely realistic, passionate, dramatic storytelling?” As for any other legacy characters who may pop up in Season 1, they are “never fan service.”

Going on to explain if the audience should be aware of Star Wars beforehand, Gilroy responded rather emphatically. “You should be able to watch the show and not give a shit about Star Wars ever, or [have ever] seen any Star Wars. This show should work on its own”. However, referring to long time fans of the franchise, Gilroy explains that “The hope, the dream, is that the really hardcore ‘Star Wars’ community will embrace the show in a new way — that they’ll be thrilled to have someone come in and completely uncynically get down molecularly in their world and treat it like a real thing.”

Addressing the maturity of the show, Gilroy explained that Andor approached its story with an emotional sophistication and narrative complexity that sets it apart from the first three Disney+ shows, which were deliberately designed for family viewing. “I don’t think it’s a show for 9-year-olds, probably,” Gilroy adds. The show still embraces its Star Wars roots, with Gilroy saying “We are an adventure story. We are a thriller.”

Indeed, one aspect of Andor that won’t be different from previous Star Wars entries is the political tone. Not only is the show political by nature – exploring the creation of a revolutionary moment, both in the halls of the Senate and on the ground – but it’s also laced with political critique and commentary about today’s society, which is something that Star Wars has always done.

The first three episodes of Andor will debut on September 21 2022.